Shakespeare Caps Off V-Day

Does a dateless Valentine’s Day or a creepy secret admirer have you thinking your life is dramatic? At least you’re not in love with your family’s sworn enemy.

Last night ye olde-fashioned romance was celebrated at “The Course of True Love: Romantic Shakespeare Scenes, Comic and Tragic,” the first in what organizers intend to become a series of performances called “Shakespeare in Love.”

Several dozen students gathered to watch actors from the Hyperion Shakespeare Company, a student group devoted to the Bard, perform favorites like the balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet,”—along with less obviously romantic choices like a farewell scene from “Richard II”—against a cozy backdrop of books in the Eliot House Library.

Director Meryl H. Federman ’11 said organizers had originally planned to hold the event—with a slightly more macabre theme—in conjunction with Halloween, but did not have enough time.

Co-producer Tiffanie K. Hsu ’09 said that they decided on Valentine’s Day instead because, “Who knows more about love than Shakespeare?”

In all, there were nine scenes, each a few minutes in length, tackling romantic themes from mutual desire to forbidden love.

Actors wore simple costumes and used almost no props, relying on expressions and gestures to set the tone.

“I was worried that we de-contextualized all these scenes,” said Jay D. Musen ’09, who played Polonius in a scene from “Hamlet” in which he disapproved of his daughter Ophelia’s budding relationship with the Danish prince.

Musen added that audiences might not be familiar with the whole plot of plays from which the scenes came, but he said he thought the scenes chosen could stand alone.

Audience member Alan H. Y. Baik ’08 liked being exposed to a lot of different stories in one show. “I haven’t actually read a lot of these plays before,” Baik said. “It was nice to see parts of these plays.”

Hsu, who played Ophelia in the scene from “Hamlet,” said that the evening was designed to be fun.

“This is supposed to be a casual event, something people can enjoy on Valentine’s Day,” Hsu said.

“You still have time to spend time with your valentine if you’re lucky enough to have one,” said Gabriela B. Tantillo ’08, who acted in a scene from “Antony and Cleopatra.”

Federman said she hopes this will be an annual tradition.

She said she purposely left out scenes “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from this production because she is already thinking about the next chapter of “Shakespeare in Love.”

“I’m toying with the theme of magic and love,” Federman said.

—Staff writer Chelsea L. Shover can be reached at